China: Rural greenhouses turn high-tech as handsets become farm tools

Vegetable growers in Shouguang, on China's east coast, are now finding it easier to grow vegetables in greenhouses, thanks to the rapid development of technology and infrastructure.

In a greenhouse in Cuilingxi, Shouguang, dozens of strings attached to a greenhouse roof begin to move as Cui Jiangyuan clicks a ventilation button on his smartphone. The roof then rises to let in fresh air. Cui, in his 50s, has been growing vegetables in greenhouses for over two decades. He said he regards his smartphone as a "new agricultural tool" that is very efficient and helpful.

Covering 1,600 square meters, the greenhouse also features smart devices including automatic equipment to adjust sunshine, water and fertilizer levels in an all-in-one machine. "It's not necessary for me to come to my greenhouse every day. I can manage the greenhouse on my phone," he said.

Years ago when he was still tending to an old greenhouse, he had to go to his greenhouse several times a day to monitor temperatures. But now he sets temperatures using his handset. When the temperature in the greenhouse creeps above the designated temperature, the ventilation device will start working to pull open the cover over the greenhouse and heating devices will kick in if the ambient temperature is too low.

Like Cui's greenhouse, greenhouses equipped with smart systems based on the Internet of things and big data account for 80 percent of the total number of greenhouses in Shouguang, according to the city government. The city now has 173,000 greenhouses, producing 4.5 million metric tons of vegetables annually.

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